Boedeker, Jones talk politics in election

Questions and Answers
Tablet on a desk – Questions and Answers

Editor’s note: The Times-Review submitted questions to each of the candidates in the Cleburne City Council Single Member District 3 race. Candidates were given 200 words to answer each question. Their answers appear as they were submitted.

Chris Boedeker

Question: The retail and restaurants promised when The Depot opened have yet to arrive. Although a private company oversees those projects what would you do if elected to jumpstart the process?

Answer: Like most Cleburnites, I voted for The Depot, and even bought season tickets to the inaugural season, on the premise that retail was just around the corner. That retail has failed to materialize so far. The $24 million question: what do we do now? I believe we must address this issue on two fronts. We need to apply public and private pressure to the developer to move forward with development. But we also need to remove the structural barriers that businesses face when opening a new storefront. Businesses look at population density and household income before expanding into a new area. We need to focus on growing middle-class jobs in Cleburne that people will be willing to relocate and plug into our community for. When people relocate to Cleburne for good jobs, they can afford to move into the beautiful homes being built in Cleburne. That increases our population density and average household income, which makes Cleburne more attractive to investors. In short, job growth leads to population growth, which will lead to retail growth. We have to focus on job growth to make sustained retail investment possible.

Q: What should be done with the First Financial Bank building purchased by the city in 2010 that has sat empty since?

A: As the old saying goes, the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, and the second best time is today. Ideally, the City never would have spent taxpayer dollars on a building that serves absolutely no purpose for the City. While it is too late to prevent that mistake, it is not too late to correct it. If the property cannot be put to a good use, it needs to be sold, rehabilitated, and restored to the tax roll. I know it may take some time to find the right buyer and the right use, but we should make that a priority.

Q: What should be done to continue reviving downtown?

A: The City has taken two important steps in reviving downtown: the façade improvement program and the proposed re-routing of truck traffic off of Henderson. By beautifying downtown and reducing traffic, exhaust fumes, and truck noise, the City has begun making downtown friendly to businesses. Now, we need to make City Hall friendlier to businesses. The City is blessed to have wonderful employees at every level, and we need to make it easier for them to do their jobs efficiently and effectively. Throughout the campaign, I have spoken with countless business owners and developers and have heard the same story from each: Cleburne is the hardest city in the region to do business with. We need to place an emphasis on the “customer service” aspect of city government. That requires a customer-first culture that starts at the top and works its way through every level of the City. We need to remember that government exists to serve its citizens, and the best way to do that is to simplify procedures, streamline approval processes, and look for ways to say “yes” to the people who want to invest in our community.

Q: What is the most pressing issue facing Cleburne and how…

State Budget Fallout & More: The Week Ahead in New York Politics, April 1

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New York City Hall
New York City Hall

What to watch for this week in New York politics:

This week will be dominated by dissection of and fallout from the new state budget, a $175.5 billion spending and policy plan agreed to by Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature over the weekend. The budget, which takes effect to start the new fiscal year on Monday, April 1, makes a wide variety of spending decisions, including on the always-important topic of education aid to localities, which comprises a large portion of the budget, and a number of new policy changes, including on criminal justice. Items like a new congestion pricing plan for New York City and making permanent the 2 percent annual property tax cap for all areas outside the city span both fiscal and policy areas.

Governor Cuomo will likely speak to the new budget earlier, but on Thursday he is set to address a Manhattan audience at length. The Legislature is due to be in session three days this week, but it’s not clear the two houses will have much of an agenda.

The City Council has a quieter week after just having wrapped up an intense month of hearings on Mayor de Blasio’s $92 billion preliminary budget. The Council will soon issue its formal preliminary budget response. The mayor’s executive budget, which will take into account the Council hearings and response, as well as the new state budget, and more, is due toward the end of this month.

There are some City Council hearings this week, plus other events around the city — see our day-by-day rundown below.

***Do you have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics?
e-mail Gotham Gazette editor Ben Max: bmax@gothamgazette.com***

The run of the week in detail:

Monday
At 8:15 a.m. Monday, NYC Health + Hospitals President Mitchell Katz will speak to the Citizens Budget Commission at the Yale Club. Katz will discuss the “transformation of H+H, the largest municipal health system in the United States, and give an update on progress on…

Q&A: District 15 Madison City Council candidates

District 15 candidates
Grant Foster, left, and Angela Jenkins are running for District 15.

Grant Foster and Angela Jenkins are running for the District 15 seat on Madison’s City Council. Whoever is successful would replace David Ahrens, who currently represents the district.

Grant Foster

Grant Foster

Because I love Madison and I want to do everything I can to make it an even better place to live. My professional experience and skills combined with the knowledge and experience I gained working within Madison’s city government have prepared me to be a very effective leader on the Council and a strong advocate for District 15.

I’ve been very involved with city governance for the last five years and have an in-depth understanding of city processes, the work of the council, and the major issues facing our community. While all new alders will face some sort of learning curve, I’m in a very strong position to hit the ground running in April on behalf of District 15 residents and businesses.

The Royster Clark area is under development right now, construction will begin soon on the Cottage Grove/Atwood area, and proposals are in for the area just outside District 15 boundaries at Acewood/Cottage Grove. The Milwaukee Street Special Area Plan was also just approved by the Common Council and it looks to capitalize on the excellent public transit access by adding significant housing as well. While all of this development has the potential to bring some negative impacts (loss of open space, increased traffic congestion) there’s also an opportunity to make our district more vibrant and create better access to retail and service amenities. It…

Fall River Councilors push back against ‘revenge politics’

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FALL RIVER — The day before Mayor Jasiel Correia II admitted on a radio talk show that the removal of his political challenger from the B.M.C. Durfee Building Committee was politically motivated, two City Councilors submitted a request for emergency legislation that would require council approval before any such mayoral actions.

Sponsored by City Council Vice President Pam Laliberte-Lebeau and Councilor Shawn Cadime, the resolution states that “political retaliation continues by the current Mayor at an alarming rate” and identified the most recent “revenge politics” against recall election candidate and School Committee member Paul Coogan, who ran against Correia, and School Committee Vice Chairman Mark Costa, who publicly supported Coogan – both of whom Correia removed less than 24 hours after he was recalled then re-elected as mayor.

The mayor could not be immediately reached for comment.

If approved, the resolution would be sent to the Committee on Ordinances and Legislation to adopt an emergency preamble for an ordinance that would allow council approval before any board or committee member holding a seat that has policy making or fiduciary responsibilities was removed by a mayor.

Assistant City Clerk Ines Leite said the council would have to approve the emergency preamble and define the emergency. If an ordinance is approved in committee, its passage will require only one reading in City Council.

The resolution is on Tuesday’s agenda for the City Council, which convenes after Correia’s scheduled State of the City address at 5:30 p.m.

Cadime is still pushing for a special meeting of the City Council to take a second try to force Correia out of office temporarily using a provision in the city charter.

“My concern is really how he governs,” said Cadime. “He’s making decisions based on his political survival, not the good of the city.”

In November, less than a month after Correia was arrested by federal officers in the early morning in Bridgewater and later arraigned on 13 federal counts of wire and tax fraud, the effort to remove Correia failed in a 4-5 vote.

Cadime cites that in additional to blatant political retribution, Correia’s ending the pay-as-you-throw program was for his own political gain before the recall and without considering the loss of revenue.

He’s also concerned with Correia’s latest claims that he’ll alleviate the storm water fee which helps fund the city’s ongoing CSO project.

“His slogan is if you don’t…

Politics Report: The Lure No City Attorney Can Avoid Anymore

Mike Aguirre / Photo by Sam Hodgson

Eleven years since he lost re-election, former San Diego City Attorney Mike Aguirre remains in the psyche of the city attorney’s office.

Aguirre stormed into office in 2004 with a new philosophy. As an elected official, he reasoned, the city attorney did not answer to anyone but the voters. And if that was the case, voters were his clients, not the mayor or City Council.

It was a tremendously disruptive insight and, combined with his mercurial temperament, it threw City Hall into chaos. We have now seen two city attorneys elected since then promising that they would never do that. They would simply be attorneys for the system — apolitical actors serving the City Council and mayor with the best advice possible.

And we have now seen two city attorneys realize just how great Aguirre’s insight was, how powerful the office can be and how much independence they really enjoy. Jan Goldsmith, Aguirre’s successor, couldn’t avoid the sweet nectar of doing his own thing. He acted independently on everything from labor negotiations to the Chargers saga to pension reform and general day-to-day operations.

When term limits forced him out, a chief deputy, Mara Elliott, made her promises to stay in the background even more succinct and unambiguous.

city attorney mara elliott
City Attorney Mara Elliott / Photo by Jamie Scott Lytle

In 2015, as she geared up her campaign for the top job, she told us the mayor and the City Council would be her client. No caveats.

“I think Aguirre brought in this perception that he was acting, he was the voice of the people. He was the lawyer for the people. But our client, the Council and the mayor, represent the people. They’ve been elected by their constituents to be the voice,” she said.

Since she got elected, she has also found her own voice. She has brought in national issues for the Council to consider and declared, on her own, that vacation rentals were illegal in the city of San Diego. But her independence from her supposed clients hadn’t been as striking as it was this week when the City Council unanimously rebuked her for pursuing a troubling reform to the California Public Records Act. She had independently sought out new statewide legislation that would have made the only enforcement mechanism in the public records law more difficult to trigger.

“I’m disappointed that the City Council was not consulted on this proposed legislation. Although I understand we legally don’t have to be, I think it would have been important,” said Councilwoman Barbara Bry at a City Council meeting dedicated to setting the city’s lobbying agenda for state and national legislation.

Elliott hadn’t even given the City Council and mayor a head’s up about this intensely controversial legislation.

As her deputy reminded them and everyone acknowledged, she could do whatever she wanted on that.

Like Aguirre recognized, her bosses are the voters, not the City Council.

Out there, one of you reading this may dream of someday becoming city attorney. When that times comes, how about we just skip the pretense that the city attorney is apolitical and will serve the mayor and City Council quietly and efficiently? Everyone who takes the job recognizes the power it has and enjoys it. Because it must be fun. And it’s fine. It is an elected position. Getting to decide what’s legal and not is immensely powerful.

But when you take political risks, sometimes you lose.

Olga Diaz to Supervisor Race: I Am in You

This week Olga Diaz, a city councilwoman in Escondido, stepped down from the board of directors here at Voice of San Diego.

She is running for the District 3 seat on the County Board of Supervisors, and that will be a race we and everyone else who cares about the county will follow intensely. Our board of directors doesn’t meddle in our coverage. Directors set the budget, evaluate whether we’re staying true…

Politics Report: The Lure No City Attorney Can Avoid Anymore

Mike Aguirre / Photo by Sam Hodgson

Eleven years since he lost re-election, former San Diego City Attorney Mike Aguirre remains in the psyche of the city attorney’s office.

Aguirre stormed into office in 2004 with a new philosophy. As an elected official, he reasoned, the city attorney did not answer to anyone but the voters. And if that was the case, voters were his clients, not the mayor or City Council.

It was a tremendously disruptive insight and, combined with his mercurial temperament, it threw City Hall into chaos. We have now seen two city attorneys elected since then promising that they would never do that. They would simply be attorneys for the system — apolitical actors serving the City Council and mayor with the best advice possible.

And we have now seen two city attorneys realize just how great Aguirre’s insight was, how powerful the office can be and how much independence they really enjoy. Jan Goldsmith, Aguirre’s successor, couldn’t avoid the sweet nectar of doing his own thing. He acted independently on everything from labor negotiations to the Chargers saga to pension reform and general day-to-day operations.

When term limits forced him out, a chief deputy, Mara Elliott, made her promises to stay in the background even more succinct and unambiguous.

city attorney mara elliott
City Attorney Mara Elliott / Photo by Jamie Scott Lytle

In 2015, as she geared up her campaign for the top job, she told us the mayor and the City Council would be her client. No caveats.

“I think Aguirre brought in this perception that he was acting, he was the voice of the people. He was the lawyer for the people. But our client, the Council and the mayor, represent the people. They’ve been elected by their constituents to be the voice,” she said.

Since she got elected, she has also found her own voice. She has brought in national issues for the Council to consider and declared, on her own, that vacation rentals were illegal in the city of San Diego. But her independence from her supposed clients hadn’t been as striking as it was this week when the City Council unanimously rebuked her for pursuing a troubling reform to the California Public Records Act. She had independently sought out new statewide legislation that would have made the only enforcement mechanism in the public records law more difficult to trigger.

“I’m disappointed that the City Council was not consulted on this proposed legislation. Although I understand we legally don’t have to be, I think it would have been important,” said Councilwoman Barbara Bry at a City Council meeting dedicated to setting the city’s lobbying agenda for state and national legislation.

Elliott hadn’t even given the City Council and mayor a head’s up about this intensely controversial legislation.

As her deputy reminded them and everyone acknowledged, she could do whatever she wanted on that.

Like Aguirre recognized, her bosses are the voters, not the City Council.

Out there, one of you reading this may dream of someday becoming city attorney. When that times comes, how about we just skip the pretense that the city attorney is apolitical and will serve the mayor and City Council quietly and efficiently? Everyone who takes the job recognizes the power it has and enjoys it. Because it must be fun. And it’s fine. It is an elected position. Getting to decide what’s legal and not is immensely powerful.

But when you take political risks, sometimes you lose.

Olga Diaz to Supervisor Race: I Am in You

This week Olga Diaz, a city councilwoman in Escondido, stepped down from the board of directors here at Voice of San Diego.

She is running for the District 3 seat on the County Board of Supervisors, and that will be a race we and everyone else who cares about the county will follow intensely. Our board of directors doesn’t meddle in our coverage. Directors set the budget, evaluate whether we’re staying true…

How Philly’s electricians union and Johnny Doc converted payroll deductions into political influence

How Philly’s electricians union and Johnny Doc converted payroll deductions into political influence
DAVID SWANSON / Staff Photographer

For years before he was indicted last month, Electricians union leader John J. “Johnny Doc” Dougherty plugged into a renewable source of political power and became one of the last of the great unelected bosses in America.

Week after week, small-dollar donations withdrawn from the paychecks of members of Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers piled up in the bank account of the union’s main political action committee, Committee on Political Education, or COPE.

From 2002 through 2018, the union collected just under $41 million to invest in helping elect allies to local, state, and national offices, according to an Inquirer analysis of Local 98 member contributions to the political committee. The yearly haul has increased sixfold over the last decade.

“The ability to generate that kind of money from that many people compared to other potential players in the political funding sweepstakes puts them head and shoulders above others,” said David Thornburgh, head of the Committee of Seventy, the Philadelphia government watchdog group.

“The power of payroll deduction is, [donors] don’t miss $5 per week or $10 per week as much as if you have to cut one check,” he said.

Under the leadership of John Dougherty, Local 98 of the electrician’s union has collected millions from its members through payroll deductions, using the funds to help elect allies to local, state, and federal offices.

Annual contributions to Local 98 from its members

SOURCE: Analysis of Pa. campaign-finance reports

Staff Graphic

The 159-page indictment returned by a federal grand jury entangled only one elected official — Councilman Bobby Henon — and didn’t charge anyone with making or receiving improper campaign donations. For a probe that took at least two years, it also gave barely a nod to the breadth of the influence and impact that Local 98 and its leader have amassed.

Dougherty’s perpetual money machine, combined with the bodies he can put on the street for get-out-the-vote operations, has helped elect senators, members of Congress, governors, state legislators, judges, mayors, City Council members, and ward leaders for the Philadelphia Democratic machine. Local 98 was a major backer of Gov. Tom Wolf, for instance, giving him slightly more than $1 million in contributions and support between his 2014 and 2018 campaigns. The union is credited with making Jim Kenney mayor.

Perhaps the crowning moment came in 2015, when union money helped Democrats take control of the state Supreme Court by electing three justices, including Dougherty’s brother, Kevin, whose campaign got $1.5 million.

Amid the critical 2018 midterm elections, the justices ordered that new congressional district boundaries be drawn after ruling that the existing districts were gerrymandered unconstitutionally to benefit Republicans. Democrats flipped four seats in Pennsylvania on their way to taking control of the…

Former city councillor Paul Borrelli hoping to enter federal politics

Ward 10 councillor, Paul Borrelli, is pictured at the Northwood Street and Dominion Blvd. intersection on Nov. 28, 2014.

Former city councillor Paul Borrelli, also a past Conservative party member, wants to become a Liberal member of parliament.

Borrelli, who lost his Ward 10 seat in last year’s municipal election after one term, said he is seeking a nomination to become the Liberal candidate in Windsor West.

“I’m running basically for altruistic reasons just to help Windsor,” said Borrelli. “We need representation. That’s essentially it in a nutshell.

“Unless you have representation at the governing table, you don’t really have a voice. We’ve been excluded for 18 years since Herb Gray. Basically, we’ve been put out on the side burner, so to speak. The old cliche that Ontario stops in London, there’s some reality to that because we just don’t get enough here.”

Doug Sartori, president of the Windsor West Liberal Riding Association, said “multiple” people have expressed interested in being a candidate.

Story continues below

“As of right now, there are no candidates green-lit in Windsor West,” he said. “A nomination process has not started.”

Chattanooga politicians react to record number of women running for president in 2020

Chattanooga City Councilwoman Carol Berz says she thinks the current political and social environments have sparked women’s interest in public office. (Image: WTVC)

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. —

A record-breaking number of women plan to run for president in 2020. Democratic Senator Kamala Harris of California made her formal announcement on Good Morning America Monday.

We wanted to know how local women in politics feel about what’s different now from when women first ran for office.

Councilwoman Carol Berz says she thinks the current political and social environments have sparked women’s interest in public office. Movements, like The Women’s March, continue to dominate the headlines, but Berz says it takes more than marching to make women to run.

Serving on Chattanooga’s City Council for more than a decade, Berz says she understands why more women now are answering the call to public service.

“I think its economy of scale, I think it’s equity in business, I think it’s education – I think it’s all sorts of things….

Politics plays a role in Toronto city council ‘class photo’ — but so does height

Councillor John Filion arrived running and breathless; Cynthia Lai wore fuchsia and Shelley Carroll will have to be photoshopped into Toronto’s official city council photo for 2018-2022.

One of the first orders of business on the morning of Thursday’s council meeting was to corral all the councillors to have their picture taken together, like a school class photo for the ages.

The 2014 council photo featured a much larger group of councillors. That was before Doug Ford's provincial government reduced the number of wards in the city.
The 2014 council photo featured a much larger group of councillors. That was before Doug Ford’s provincial government reduced the number of wards in the city. (Bernard Weil / Toronto Star file photo)
City council’s 2018-2022 photo features Mayor John Tory in the centre of the front row, flanked by members of his executive committee.
City council’s 2018-2022 photo features Mayor John Tory in the centre of the front row, flanked by members of his executive committee.

No one wanted to admit to spending a lot of time figuring out what to wear, but clearly, some councillors spent some time deciding what to wear for a photo that is after all, for the historical record.

It will hang prominently outside the mayor’s office for the term and then be filed away in the city archives for future generations to consult.

“It’s what all the school kids look at when they come to city hall,” said Denzil Minnan-Wong (Ward 16, Don Valley East), sporting a dapper suit and tie for the picture. The veteran councillor said it was his eighth official city council photo, including his service on North York council.

When left-leaning David Miller was Toronto mayor, Minnan-Wong, a conservative, was consigned to the background of the photo.

“I think the feeling was mutual,” said Minnan-Wong.

This year, as last term, Minnan-Wong was seated in the front row, directly on Mayor John Tory’s right. Speaker Frances Nunziata (Ward 5, York South—Western) was seated on the mayor’s left, as she was last term. Both Minnan-Wong and Nunziata are regarded as Tory supporters.

The first row was filled with members of the mayor’s executive committee and those holding other senior posts.

Rabble rouser Gord Perks (Ward 4, Parkdale High-Park) was consigned to the back row, third from the left, a corner far from Tory, with whom he often clashes.

A seating plan is devised ahead of time, but it usually gets switched around in the last minutes, depending on height and what people are wearing, said Bev Kurmey, Toronto’s senior project manager in strategic protocol and external relations. There are conventions: members of the mayor’s executive committee get the front row.

Height is, as with all photos, a primary consideration when arranging the councillors, according to photographer Joncarlo Lista, president New Paramount Studios.

Lista…